On Gardens and Compost Consequences

Maybe it was because I had made it clear that a short cut lawn seems wasteful–what use is boring, old grass, after all? Unless it is very tall grass, surrounding and protecting our very short High bush blueberries, and waving luxuriantly in the stiff breezes coming over the mountain. Carl prefers short grass, not for its neat as a pin look but because it suggests fewer ticks. Whatever the case, I noted that he had taken to watching videos on scything. It’s a beautiful process. The rhythm. The swish and swoosh of the blade cutting the grasses, and the grasses falling into nice rows that are a fabulous mulch. If you mulch deep enough. And keep mulching. Then sun doesn’t get to the seeds.


This is the new theory at Darwin’s View, anyway. 


The scythe arrived. Carl went out to practice. He came back sweaty, sunburned and frustrated. But he isn’t one to give up. Ever. And so he watched more videos and went out to practice some more. His new workout—much preferred over going downstairs into the basement for a stationary bike ride.  


He brought a wheel barrel of the cut grass over to me where I was weeding out in the garden where my tomatoes and eggplants and peppers had so mysteriously disappeared. Well! I found some of them. They are still the size they were two weeks ago. But I am sure that now they will begin to grow because 1. Carl took pity on them and sprayed them with compost tea. 2. The competitive edge of nature will motivate my seedlings because I bought some starts from Rosalie’s Farm. And our neighbors gave us some starts, too. And so I planted those gangly teenaged tomatoes and eggplant and peppers in between my infant seedlings. Composted everything. And then spread the luxuriant grass that Carl had cut down with his scythe. It is amazing. I sprained my pinky toe a few days ago (not advisable) and the soft cushion of the grass on bare feet is the best! And it is thick on the ground, but every two or so feet, a plant. Hope for the future! Which we need right about now, reading the news (also not advisable). And then I went inside to announce to Carl–watching a video on how to sharpen a scythe–that I want to learn to scythe, too. 


Not quite sure where that logic came from: from walking on soft mown grasses while tending to incipient vegetable plants, to excessive sweating and frustration. But Carl is having such fun out there, I hate to miss it. And maybe struggling with a scythe will distract me from the fact of our new residents at Darwin’s View.


Rats. Carl set up a video cam in the bus stop because he couldn’t quite believe the hens were eating so much of our food waste so fast. (We pick up the food waste of a local restaurant: two five gallon buckets twice a week. It doesn’t make much of a dent in the 150 thousand tons of food waste thrown out every day in the US—that’s one pound per person. But we try to do our part. And it’s all a learning process because we aim to, some day, compost all of Jaffrey’s food waste ….)


Carl was correct about the hens being not quite so ravenous. One rat. Two. Apparently, part of our learning process here is what to do about rats. Having just watched the movie “The Biggest Little Farm,” my first suggestion was that we order up . . . or Carl might build . . . a couple of owl boxes. Once we get all the food out of the chicken run, the rats will have to find their food outside of the coop, under the light of the moon and smack! An owl will have dinner. 


Why do I have less sympathy for a rat than, perhaps, a possum? Our great niece Peyton used to have two pet rats: Brownie and Valentine. She loved her rats. I thought they were fine. Large mice. Cute in a long, rubbery tail kind of way. Maybe I could adopt and name our resident rat . . . s. Yes, when you get to the plural of rats other ideas come to mind: the armies of rats in NYC that carry thousands of diseases. (I would find details but leave it to you. Even googling NYC and rats gives me a queasy feeling.)


Granted, these are country rats. But two rats? That leads me to think of 101 Dalmation numbers of rats. I imagine Nick and Nora having to actually get up from their naps to protect our home from incoming incisors. 


And so I googled how to get rid of rats . . . while on the train to NYC. Yes, I and my swollen toe left for NYC, leaving Carl to dig out the chicken run where the compost heap has been all winter long. We have ordered up a new, industrial composter, and are developing a plan to keep the food waste up and out of rat reach. According to google, if you remove the food source, no more rat problem.


Unless, as a friend has noted, there’s still a problem. Then it’s time to get out the rat birth control sticks. Which only exist in the form of poison. Which is so depressing. Dessicating a bunch of innocent rats and their babies. They are just trying to survive and isn’t there enough death and destruction in the world? Or is it time to embrace my humanness. As such, I am complicit in the destruction of our planet. For all my bleeding heart hopes and dreams, yet this is the Anthropocene age. Human controlled. We cannot go back. Animals—including humans—die. And they live. They fight. They love.


But but but I live in Eden! I live in a bubble. Why not hope and dream? Even if it sounds kind of cra-cra when coming from a presidential candidate, maybe love can win out. Certainly, I believe that is the only way we are going to survive the upcoming times—by working together. Coopetition. Community.


Because we are a part of the web of life. We are all connected.


Leaving the question open, whether that will save our resident rats.